Read Part 1 here
As you might expect, the changes in these numbers and in the number of classrooms required the expansion of our staff. With the addition of new classrooms, we now have 89 classroom staff and 30 therapists, including speech, OT, PT, and behavior. Three quarters of all our staff have at the minimum an associate’s degree – one quarter of these have a master’s degree! This speaks to the consistent trend we have seen is the need to recruit staff who are better educated than generations prior.
We also have several new – or newly renovated – programs for this school year. Our renovations include a “spruced up” cafeteria as well as newly renovated high school restrooms. These restrooms were constructed in 1987 – over 30 years ago! It is safe to say it was time for an update.
The behavior department is introducing behavioral healthcare furniture, Norix, as an increased safety measure. The furniture is built with a soft, rounded plastic and is then filled with sand so it is weighted down and unable to be moved. This is particularly important in classrooms where behavioral issues are a concern.
During our August inservice, percussion artist Jim Donovan held a training session for teachers and therapists for “Drumming Therapy.” Research shows that using musical strategies and rhythms increases attention to tasks, reduces stress, and improves socialization and non-verbal expressions. After our first experience with Jim a year ago, we saw such positive results with our students that we decided to implement the training school-wide.
Now, we already plan to have Jim return to train the paraeducators – this is one of the most requested training sessions we’ve ever had!
We are also continuing our three-year implementation of PBIS – Positive Interventions & Supports. This year begins Year 2, in which we will implement the student matrix. We continue to follow the three main matrix topics of: Be Kind, Be Safe, Be Independent; however, students will achieve these goals differently than staff. We will continue to reinforce the staff matrix simultaneously.
School year 18-19 looks to be even more successful than 17-18!